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Tech Snoops into Client's Private EMail

By Aaron A Baker ·
Opinions Please
E-Mai Snooping or Professional Misconduct?
I have a friend who owns a Medium Sized Business. It? a good Business and doing extremely well.
In this setup he has the usual, a few Computers, Printers and the usual IT Setups to do the chores.
The Problem is his IT Tech.
Although the Tech is quite knowledgeable, he has the habit of logging himself in on my friend?s system at night when all is closed down, and then proceeds to read all my friend?s E-Mail. All without my friend?s permission or consent. As a matter of fact, my friend doesn?t even know anything has taken place until the Tech asks how the date went last night etc, etc.
If an E-Mail contains a note from my friend?s girlfriend regarding going out for dinner or whatever, the Tech will usually call him the next day to ask ho the dinner went and so on.
Of course this frustrates my friend to no end as he feels that his mail is private and should certainly not be held out as entertainment.
This Tech does this without regard as to how this might affect the client.
He Just goes in and reads it all and then will send in little comments on things In the e-Mails such as ?I hope the Wine was good? , How was the Pizza? You get the idea.
When my friend asked me about this, I hit the roof. I informed him that this was Professional Misconduct. No Professional Tech would read other people?s mail for the purpose of snooping. It simply wasn?t done.
I told him that the Tech had absolutely no reason to log himself back on after hours for the sole purpose of snooping and that this was conduct unbecoming of a professional IT Tech.
Let alone call the next day to discuss the contents of said E-Mails. What Nerve.
I am writing to you, my fellow Techs to ask if your are of the same mind.
Do you think it?s appropriate for a Tech to help himself to a clients personal E-Mails and then make comments on the contents of the e-Mail to the client?.
I suggested firing him out the window, what do you think?
Would be grateful for your thoughts.
Thanking you in advance

It is now Nov 17,2005
I've read every single post that has been put up here so far. I've also started copying them and pasting them in order so as to show them to my friend. I have to do ten or so at a time and then my eyeballs fall out :).
But the one thing I felt the need to say to each and every one of you is a really huge,"Thank You".
Your input has been far more valuable that you can possibly imagine, not to mention it's given me some great fighting ideas. I was surprised at the amount of answers but at the same time felt a deep sense of well being knowing that the True Pros out there feels and act as I do. It's a comforting feeling, knowing that although your work is done almost always by yourself, you're never really alone.
And so I just had to take a minute and thank you all so very much for having helped me out with this.I will of course keep coming back,a-To copy & Paste and then b]- To read any new posts.
It's a genuine pleasure knowing that I am dealing with the very best, and all these posts, prove that beyond a doubt.
Please forgive my little rant, but I truly touched am very grateful to all of you. Far more than you can know.
And so I close in saying
"May we continue keeping our standards and morals at the highest"
"No matter where we are in the World, May we be of one Moral Core."
Thank you one and all
Warmest Regards and heartfelt gratitude

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

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by mlayton In reply to NOT his PERSONAL mail in ...

...if the guy was just a worker bee, that would be true, but we are talking the owner of the company who hired a guy to do a job. The tech is WAY outside his bounds, and it seems to me flaunting it. He may be trying to make the point that the company e-mail is far from private but a) unless thats in his task list to be reviewing people's e-mail he's overstepping and b) if he's doing it to other people and the company doesn't have acceptable use policy, etc in place there are potentially other legal troubles if someone else gets wind and decides to sue "they never notified me... etc". This yahoo needs to be booted but fast.

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The tech is NOT the company...

by ray.labrecque In reply to NOT his PERSONAL mail in ...

Yes, the Company or its' owners have rights to all the bits and bytes on the computers they own, but this Tech is NOT an owner... He has no rights, but he does have an ethical and moral oblication to stay out of others peoples files and emails. This is an invasion of privacy. Plain and simple. Yes it is Company email, but if the owners let people use it for private purposes, then private messages and the expectation of limited confidentiality follow. Get a security consultant to lock things down and fire the bum. I don't even think you have to worry about civil liberties at this point. This person has crossed the line.

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Justified outrage

by NeoConOne In reply to Tech Snoops into Client's ...

You can certainly fire him on the spot. If you do not, then document the incident, have him sign it, and be prepared to let him go at the next episode.

In the meantime, limit his ability to hurt you if he leaves quickly, either voluntarily or not. Be sure, absolutely, that you have all the passwords the he has and lock him out of changing them. Disable his ability to get into the system immeditely upon his departure, and again imediately, change all passwords he was privy to.

If this guy isn't worth the effort, let him go today.

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Give him a choice

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Tech Snoops into Client's ...

the door or the window.
Maybe not he'd probably sue and win.
He's got to go, though, if he's using company equipment to email people about personal matters you can fire his *** for misuse of company property, air tight I should think.

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professional misconduct.

by thomas In reply to Tech Snoops into Client's ...

Not so fast....
Firstly, you got to know what he's got access to and if he can still come back to haunt you.
Slowly find ways to lock him out.
And when you fire the guy out of the window ( preferbably with a cannon ), you got to change all the locks quickly.
Otherwise its going to come back and haunt you.

This is serious misconduct, and I myself wouldn't dream of doing this.

my 2 cents

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We don't need rules, we need manners.

by DC Guy In reply to Tech Snoops into Client's ...

That was the punch line of the Prickly City comic strip a few weeks ago on the subject of flag burning being a right but also being painful to people whose children died (in their view at least) defending that right. "We don't need a constitutional amendment. We just need manners."

Occasionally technicians have to look at other people's computers. Sometimes it happens after hours. Sometimes they have to use their own discretion trying to diagnose and solve a problem before the next workday begins. Sometimes they have to look into several other people's computers until they find the problem. Sometimes they see personal information.

We all know this happens. We all live with the knowledge that in the Information Age, the privacy of virtually anything we do or say is not totally secure.

But we expect the people who get a glimpse into our private lives to act like professionals and concentrate on what they're looking for, not being voyeurs.

I have no doubt that among our many computer security officers and our even larger staff of help desk people and troubleshooters, there are quite a few people who have watched me type personal e-mails or order prescriptions. But they did it because they were tracking a network problem or a security issue, not for fun. And they didn't call me the next day to throw it in my face.

Your guy doesn't need an official reprimand. He needs to be dealt with personally, as a member of the community rather than of the corporation. Like tarred and feathered, or hung on the flagpole by a wedgie. (Note to my network security officer: This is a joke to make my point, I'm not really advocating irresponsible behavior. ^_^ ) He's gone over that thin line that keeps the "civil" in "civilization."

What you need to do is not just get him out of your life, but give him a wake-up call that discourages him from moving on to another employer and continuing to be the same jerk.

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by Aaron A Baker In reply to We don't need rules, we n ...

I couldn't agree with you more.
The problem it seems, that in today's society, we seem to be making up laws for what was once thought of as "Good Manners" of " Knowing how to live".
I agree that we all find ourselves in spots where we could easily "Snoop" but our moral core prevents us from doing this, why? Because we're Pros and above that sort of thing. On top of that, and we certainly wouldn't call the client the next day to brag about it. This kind of conduct will seem abhorrent to anyone who knows how to live, unfortunately,for the others, we must make laws. Personally I liked the old way better. Moral core still has values, Thank Goodness.:)

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What do the policies of the company say?

by JerryM MCSE+I / A+ In reply to Tech Snoops into Client's ...

Company policy dictates access. If there is no company policy then I would agree that the "Tech" is out of line. Technically the tech doesn't need the users password to access any users email but definately needs policy to permit it. Different regulations (HIPPA for example) open the door for bad thngs to happy not only to the alleged intrusive tech but liability to the company as well.

Regardless of policy the tech should not be commenting or responding to any emails he should happen to encounter.

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Fire him

by ITgirli In reply to Tech Snoops into Client's ...

Fire him and do it quick. Mention that he may not want to use the company as a reference for future employment, or don't mention it and let them know why he was fired. After the first time, i would have explained that it is not his job to read/respond to other's emails, checking for viruses is one thing, if you friend owns the company I feel that his business is his business. If the tech did it a second time I would have his butt scraping pavement on the way out.

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No it's much more pleasurable

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Fire him

Grabbing them by the hair and kicking them in the but off the property. :)

Dragging them kicking & screaming off the property is so much more stressful and it requires much more effort.

Col ]:)

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